Going Urban

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to receive Bellabeat's latest model of smart tracking jewelry, the sleek and small Bellabeat Urban. To be clear, I been a pretty big champion for this company ever since I bought their first edition, the Bellabeat Leaf. For more details on my love affair and rave reviews of this piece, check out my previous review. To be honest, when I found out the Urban was headed my way, I was not quite sure what to expect. I was an ongoing fan of the Leaf, and had few complaints about the piece or the app that accompanied it. I've given feedback to the Bellabeat team on several minor suggestions, mostly activities I wanted to see added to their standard list such as Barre class and Vinyasa yoga, and was pleasantly surprised when these were added on subsequent software updates. The only main draw backs I found to the leaf were it's size/shape, which could occasionally feel clunky or cumbersome during HIIT and weight training, and the fact that it wasn't waterproof (I freaked out once when I accidentally wore it in the shower for a minute, but it ended up being fine). Apparently I wasn't alone in these perceptions, because the two main touted features of the Urban are it's sleekness and smaller size, and the fact that it can withstand water. If there is one thing I can say about the folks over at Bellabeat, it is that they listen to their customers.

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Over the past three weeks since I started wearing it there have been other things I've noticed about the device, some good and some bad. The main thing I notice about wearing the Urban in comparison to it's predecessor is how incredibly comfortable it is. I forget completely that I even have it on. I have worn it almost exclusively as a bracelet, and the Urban comes with a different bracelet band than past designs. The new bracelet fits my small wrist much more securely than the old band did, and with the device snug, I haven't had it come off or rub or wear in any uncomfortable way, even throughout yoga classes, weight lifting, and sleeping. I've worn it every night to bed as a bracelet since getting it and it's never irritated me once. The past design I would wear clipped to my shirt or pants in the evening, but even then it would invariably press uncomfortably in my skin or fall off and not track my sleep properly through the night. The change in size/fit has allowed me to wear the device much more consistently, and in turn have much more data as to my overall sleep, health, and activity levels.

The second thing I've noticed about the Urban is the ways in which the team has improved the corresponding phone app. Previously the app simply reported your sleep monitoring, activity levels, and fertility cycle. Part way through this year the app added a few elementary breathing exercises. They have now expanded that portion of the app into a full catalogue of meditation exercises, with guided meditations for everything from relaxation to reducing period discomfort to channeling and focusing the mind. I absolutely love this new portion of the app. I have been doing the meditations during my morning commute or when I'm about to take off for a flight, or at any other time I feel they could help me combat the sensitivity of my ever-inflamed nervous system. They help tremendously, and I love tracking them to know that I have taken one small, ten minute step a day to try and calm down my mind and body. In addition to adding the full meditation catalogue, the app also now has a stress monitoring feature that tracks and monitors a correlation between hours slept, activity time, and meditation time in a day to give you a rough predictor of stress levels, and suggests ways for improvement. As a recovering stress addict, seeing these numbers, and getting a gentle reminder that stress does impact my health is helpful to me, even if it isn't something I can't pinpoint or completely quantify.

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The only drawback I have noticed to the new Bellabeat Urban is that the activity tracking is not quite up to par with it's predecessor. The Leaf was always fairly accurate, even from the earliest software version, in terms of steps walked in a day and my varied activity levels. I have noticed on my less active days, particularly this week when I was in bed sick, that the device has synced as having zero minutes of activity for the day. I know I wasn't running laps or anything on those days, but I also wasn't totally comatose. I was walking around the house and up and down our stairs, and I would have expected the device to pick up at least some activity, even if it had been minimal. However, I have noticed user feedback about this recently, and it seems like something that Bellabeat may be working to resolve in an upcoming update.

In general, even though the design is only slightly different, I have really enjoyed wearing and using the latest Bellabeat model. They have maintained me as an avid customer with their continued attention to detail and design, and their intelligent and truly holistically health focused additions to their application. I am a proud wearer of their devices and love chatting with people who ask me about it on the street to tell them more about the brand and the benefits I experience from it. I know that they are also working on new devices and technology around pregnancy tracking, and they recently announced an add on device to hear your baby's heartbeat in utero, which I think is incredible. I love the way they think about women first when it comes to the design and functionality of their offerings, and can't wait to see and support what they come up with next!